Kadvi Hawa is a depiction of a dark and depressing reality in the backdrop of climate change and farmer’s suicides. However, this logline definitely limits the achievement the film. The director Nila Madhab Panda successfully limits himself from throwing ‘Global Warming’ on your face and settles down for a deeply human story told through a crafted cinematic experience. And it is exactly this achievement that makes a demand for this film to be a jewel among the plethora of films made in India.
— kaahon (@kaahonwall) November 25, 2017
The exposition of the film leaves us with one of the finest cinematic experiences of recent times. Sanjay Mishra appears as a blind farmer Hedu who travels from his remote village, Mahua to the rural Bank in the nearest town with the hope of learning the amount of debt his son Mukund has on him. Failing to achieve what he wanted to know he comes back to his house where he is survived by his granddaughter Kuhu, daughter in law (played by Tillotama Shome) and son Mukund (played by Bhupesh Singh). The craft (read ‘slow’/ ‘not entertaining’/ ‘protracted and plodding’ as per the reviews in circulation) takes us right into the landscape, people, life and experience of the arid, rainless and hopeless destiny of the villagers of Mahua through its wonderful camerawork, texture, tone, rhythm and soundscape. For the good first part of the film the blind farmer Hedu travels from his remote village Mahua to the town bank and without achieving what he wants, comes back to his family in the night only to be scorned by his son Mukund the next morning and nothing else. Thus, right from the beginning the story wise progression of the film is seemingly static. But this is exactly what sets the language, tone and texture of the film and gives us an altogether different cinematic experience.
What follows beyond the texture is the story of the blind farmer Hedu who strikes a deal with the merciless loan recovery agent Gunu Baba (played by Ranvir Shorey). Most villagers of Mahua and also Mukund, blind Hedu’s son, is always in the cycle of debt to the bank. He is somber and in despair. More over the presence of recovery agent who is known as Yamdoot is always threatening as his merciless method is bound to drive villagers towards further despair and eventual suicides. Hedu is afraid that his son Mukund too might be driven towards this ultimate despair and cuts out a deal with the recovery agent Ranvir Shorey. He divulges information to him, which gets him successful recoveries in exchange of waivers of loan amounts on Mukund. Of course, Hedu is cheating on his fellow village men but that is how dark the situation is when Hedu’s sense of morality throttles under the pressure of his personal anguish. However, the Yamdoot has a personal story as well and that makes him vulnerable too. He is from Odhisa and from a belt that is always wary of excessive torrential rains and fury of the sea. He wants to run away from his hometown and dreams of setting up his home and family in a place where he will be safe from these sudden vagaries of rains. Two hapless men strike a deal in a classic situation of irony. One, Hedu who is from the arid Bundelkhand and for whom the rain has now become nothing but a dream. And the other from the sea engulfing Odhisa, whose biggest scare is the rain. It makes the film compelling and tells the tale of Global Warming and vagaries of nature at a personal level and how it affects the rural scenario.
The craftiness works in not getting into the details of how such man-made disasters actually work or detailing how anybody is actually responsible for this but in achieving the dark and despairing portrayal of how it actually affects both the chaser and the prey. And perhaps that’s the darkest part of the reality where nobody sees the light of life. And everybody remains in a hopeless situation at the mercy of lack of rains or excess of it or mercilessness of debts set up by state institutions and its appendages. In this way, the director achieves a right platform of posing serious questions up.
In its tone and texture what lingers with the audience is something beyond the riveting darkness and compelling nature of the story. It is the enthralling beauty of belonging into a space with its visuals, sound and depictions of reality – The Dholpur bus full of local people with their own characters and cattle, the queue at rural bank and its own colour, the biker who drops Kuhu to her school, the school scene itself where one child ends up challenging the notion of seasons, the binding silence of the landscape and the staggering travel of the blind man along the rustic land at the earliest part of the morning … all survive as potent cinematic images in the context of Indian film history. The exposition of the film depicts an almost immaculate sense of rhythm by its edit by Jabeen Merchant. The cinematography is truly apt to the subject giving it that required sense of destitution with its colors and tone. Anintriguing background score by Mangesh Dhakde and a brilliant sound design makes the film all the more apt. Performance wise Ranvir Shorey seems effortless as the Odiya loan recovery agent and Tillotama Shome is simply stunning as the daughter in law. Last but not the least is Sanjay Mishra’s best performance till date – it’s an overwhelming achievement on his part. It is this achievement in its totality that gives the audience a wholesome cinematic experience that is rare to be seen. Again, it is this cinematic achievement that makes this film so very special among its peers.
A special note of thanks to Drishyam Films who presented Kadvi Hawa.Coming in-effect from brilliant film like Masan, this has been a huge year for them with truly noteworthy efforts like Newton, Rukh and now Kadvi Hawa.